Happy All-Star Break, baseball fans! It’s crazy to think we’re already at the halfway point of the season, but time flies when you’re having fun! Now it’s time to sit back and watch the stars of the game sock a few dingers. Insert Simpsons GIF here.
While the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game itself deservedly get most of the attention, being the prospect nerd that I am, I always get extra pumped for the Futures Game. Seeing so many of the league’s top prospects and future stars on the same field is always cool, and it’ll be years before you see some of these matchups again.
Since you’re reading the Loupe blog, of course I’m gonna put a sports card spin on this post. Many of these prospects are guys we’ve been chasing in Bowman for the past couple seasons, and this is the first chance to catch the majority of them in a nationally broadcasted game. While you wouldn’t think an exhibition game would impact card values TOO much, a huge performance on the big stage could open the eyes of other collectors and drive up the value of certain prospects.
So with first pitch of the Futures Game around the corner this afternoon, today I’m going to discuss three prospects that I’m watching the closest in this game. For the sake of not stacking the SUPER obvious ones (Witt, Kelenic, etc.) I’ll give myself the challenge of picking one position player from each league and one pitcher. I’ll inevitably get roasted in the comments by somebody who didn’t read that disclaimer, but that’s what blogging’s all about!
White Sox OF Yoelqui Cespedes
Yes, the AL roster is absolutely stacked and there are a bunch of other guys I could’ve gone with. Bobby Witt Jr. will likely be one of the best shortstops in the American League by 2023. Adley Rutschman is one of the most exciting catching prospects I can remember. Despite his slow start earlier this season, we all know Jarred Kelenic will be a stud. But today I’ll be watching a guy that we haven’t see a ton of stateside, and that’s Yoelqui Cespedes.
The younger half-brother of Yoenis was MLB.com’s #1 international prospect when the White Sox signed him this past winter, and 2021 is his first season of baseball in the United States. Getting to immediately see him against the likes of Matthew Liberatore in the Futures Game will be a great test of where he’s at as a hitter. Cespedes is one of the top chases in Bowman 2021, and I expect him to give a taste of why at today’s Futures Game.
Padres C Luis Campusano
While many factors go into a player becoming a superstar (and, by default, their card value going up), two of the most important ones are talent and opportunity. Talent speaks for itself; elite level players generally stick with an organization and find themselves regular playing time. Opportunity, however, can be even more imporant.
Luis Campusano of the Padres has quite a bit of both. The consensus top 3 catching prospect in baseball is obviously freakishly talented, as evidenced by him slotted to bat 4th in the Futures Game today. However, with Fernando Tatis Jr. signed to essentially a lifetime contract, the Padres are poised to be one of the most nationally talked about teams in the league for the foreseeable future. Campusano is 22 years old and all signs point to him being the catcher of the future in San Diego. You see what I’m getting at here? The spotlight will be bright in San Diego, and the stars of that team will shine a little brighter. Campusano’s card value will undoubtedly be higher than it is today if he reaches even half of his potential. The only question is just how much will it rise?
Cardinals LHP Matthew Liberatore
Okay fine, I’ll go chalk for ONE of these. But that’s just because I think Matthew Liberatore will be one of the best pitchers in baseball, and I think that’ll happen much sooner than later. Once he settles down in AAA his next step will be taking down hitters in the big leagues, and starting the Futures Game will be a great final milestone before he reaches that point.
Liberatore has all the potential in the world to be an ace, and I don’t believe the prices for his 2018 Bowman cards quite reflect that. Even if he only pitches one inning today he’s guaranteed to face Bobby Witt Jr., Jarred Kelenic, AND Julio Rodriguez. Will a solid performance against those future superstars open the eyes of more collectors?